October 26, 2014

1317 IRAQ (Nineveh) - The Dominican Clock Church in Mosul

With a rich ancient history, Mosul was an important trade center which linked Persia and the Mediterranean, so it was allways a cosmopolitan city. Christianity was present among the indigenous Assyrian people as early as the 2nd century, and later the city became a center for the Nestorian Christianity (it contains the tombs of several Old Testament prophets such as Jonah). After the annexation to the Rashidun Caliphate, the Islam became the dominant religion, but the city maintained, more than 1300 years, until Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) took over it in 2014, a multicultural and multi-religious mosaic, despite the institutional ethnic persecution by various political powers.

There was a Sunni Arab majority in urban areas, but across the Tigris, and further north, thousands of Assyrians, Kurds, Turkmens and Armenians made up the rest of Mosul's population, with Shabaks concentrated on the eastern outskirts of the city. Saddam Hussein forced in the 1980s those minorities to move outside the city, and after the conquest by ISIS, half a million people (almost one third of the population), most of them of other religions, including Assyrian Christians and Shiite Muslims, were driven. Also ISIS has destroyed, occupied, converted to mosques, converted to headquarters or shuttered all 45 Christian institutions in Mosul.

One of these is the Clock Church (Al-Sa’a), a latin church built in 1862, known for its fine marble and stained glass, and named after a clock donated by the wife of Napoleon III. It suffered significant damage after 2003, the most important on November 1, 2006, when a explosion shattered its exterior iron doors and flattened two sets of wood doors. Even before the conquest by ISIS, fearing further violence, the Dominican priests ceased to wear their clerical robes on the street and rarely went out in public, and  ultimately have relocated to one of several villages outside of Arbil, 50 miles from Mosul, in Iraq’s northern Kurdish region. The image from the postcard is since 1980's.

About the stamp
The stamp is part of the series Falcons, about which I wrote here.

Mosul - Wikipedia
Terrorists Blast Iraqi Church - crosswalk.com
All 45 Christian Institutions in Mosul Destroyed or Occupied By ISIS - AINA News

sender: Bilal Al-Bakri (direct swap)
sent from Mosul (Iraq), on 07.05.2013

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